New equipment announced by Proxim has added to a growing array of wireless alternatives to wired broadband and leased lines.
The gear, which Proxim calls the Tsunami MP.11a line, is designed to let service providers and enterprises build long-range outdoor networks that take advantage of inexpensive commodity hardware designed for wireless LANs. It is based on IEEE 802.11a technology, with a maximum carrying capacity of 54Mbps and represents a step up from the vendor’s current Tsunami MP.11 line, which uses 802.11b gear and offers 11Mbps.
The 802.11a technology has more channels so service providers can offer bandwidth to more customers, and its higher data rate opens the door to services for small and medium-sized businesses, according to Ken Haase, director of product marketing and business development at Proxim.
It can also provide backhaul connections from one network to another, such as a wireless “fat pipe” from a public wireless LAN hotspot.
The market for broadband fixed wireless systems was already crowded with technologies, most of them proprietary, but standards-based products might help drive down prices and help wireless compete against digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem services, analysts said.
Though systems such as Proxim’s are not designed for use with off-the-shelf client devices from third parties, high production volumes should reduce the cost of the standard components on which they are based.
Despite being standards-based, Proxim’s MP.11a products are specialised.
Typical wireless LAN gear couldn’t be used for the kind of controlled, multiple-customer services for which Proxim designs its outdoor gear, Haase said.
Proxim uses its Wireless Outdoor Router Protocol (WORP) to allocate a guaranteed amount of bandwidth to each customer, so a few users can’t take up the whole capacity of a base station as they could with a conventional wireless LAN access point.